With the Kids

Benefits of Learning a Second Language

Ever since my children were very young, I’ve had the desire to expose them to a second language. I’ve been wanting to continue their learning of a second language, specifically Spanish. So I’ve been researching programs that can help teach me and my kids to speak Spanish and how it can benefit them for years to come!

Learning a second language

I recently reached out to Rosetta Stone, a company known for their language immersion programs to talk with one of their learning experts, Duane Sider. He’s been with the company since 1997, helping develop the program to what it’s become today. We talked a lot about the benefits of why and how children learn a second language. Here are the main points I learned from my research and discussion with Duane:

Benefits of Learning a Second Language

Being biligual/multilingual can help an individual with many areas of life. Specifically education, career, and developing relationships.

  • Education: Studies have shown that learning a second language can help a child’s intellectual development. It improves their thinking and listening skills, even in their native language.
  • Career: Being bilingual can provide unique career opportunities and is considered an invaluable skill by many employers in a variety of industries.
  • Relationships: Knowing a second language can open doors to new people and cultures. It can give you an opportunity to cultivate relationships with individuals that you may not have been able to before.

How to learn a second language:

When learning a second language, it’s helpful to remember these three important principles: starting early, being immersed, and consistency.

  • Starting Early: We’re all born with the natural ability to learn languages. A child’s brain is a sponge, soaking up new experiences and information all the time. However as we get older, this natural ability or “sponge” is not as absorbent, making it more difficult to learn a new language. So teaching a child at an early age, can provide significant benefits in language learning.
  • Immersion: Immerse yourself fully in the new language. Try not to translate everything back into your native tongue. Doing so will allow you to tap into your brain’s natural language learning ability. Imagine being dropped in the middle of a foreign land with no one that speaks your native tongue, you’d have to adapt very quickly!
  • Consistency: Many that have learned a second language, but not used it consistently, find their new language skills may get a little rusty. As with any skill, consistency and repetition helps to hone the skill… practice makes perfect. Look for opportunities to regularly engage in your second language.

As I embark on this adventure to learn a new language with my kids, I feel empowered with this knowledge to succeed. I look forward to this new experience and what benefits it will bring to my family. I’m sure there’s many of you who could offer some useful insights from your own experience. If you have anything more to add, please share what you’ve learned.

Photo by Cel Lisboa

22 comments

  1. Well, I know both English and Spanish
    I Don’t Really Remember When I Learned English Considering That My Parents Are Mexican.. xD

  2. Hello,
    I am a Naturopoath doctor living on a fixed income in the area of Cotacachi Ecuador. I would appreciate receiving your Rosetta Stone Language Learning Giveaway introductory Spanish Course. It would help me learn Spanish which is necessary for me to be able to understand the health problems and circumstances of the poverty level indegenous people I am trying to help.
    Thanks for your consideration.
    Don Santini, ND, MH

  3. Yeah, cartoons is really cool in learning a new language. I teach my kids Spanish language through Dora. And at times we watch Spanish movies. I wanted them to become bilingual because it would do them good career and personality wise when they grow up.

  4. I just finished an article on learning a second language helps boost children’s brain power, making children stronger, quicker and smarter. The effect is more obvious the earlier that a second language was learned.

    So I think there is nothing to worry about learning two languages at the same time. Actually we as parents should encourage our children to learn a second language when they are young.

  5. I think a second language is a great idea! I am of the opinion that if you live in a country that doesn’t use your native language, that you are obligated to learn that language. It’s unfortunate that in the United States we don’t seem to encourage our residents to speak English….our official language. It takes additional tax dollars, and educational funding to translate everything into Spanish (most common in California) and print the reverse of all the forms in Spanish. What if the money was used to teach English, and then that funding could be spent to improve all the skills for ALL children. Math, reading, writing, etc. If I moved to Germany, or “fill in the blank”, I would learn that country’s native language. I would feel it is disrespectful of me NOT to learn the language of that country. It would take time to adapt and learn, but I would see it as an opportunity, plus I’d be scared to death what might happen to myself and my family if I could not communicate clearly. My son is learning ASL as his second language and hopefully someday he can work with the deaf. If he moves to another country, he’s going to need to learn to sign in that language (and have a 3rd, and maybe a 4th language) too! I think it would be an amazing skill to speak many languages! How fascinating life would be! You could communicate with so many different cultures and travel the world with ease! :)

  6. Our family is technically trilingual – my native language is Russian, my husband is from Germany, and we live in US, speaking English at home. Our daughter is 32 months, and I was speaking English with her from birth while my stay-at-home father was speaking German. Unlike many bilingual kids, she ended up being a very early talker in English and understands German reasonably well. Now my struggle is to introduce Russian to her. Essentially it’s going to be a foreign language for her even though it’s native to me. Sometimes I feel that I made a mistake, because I haven’t tried hard enough when she was younger. But there is still time, right?

  7. I’m about to make the leap into teaching a second language. There are many compelling reasons to start with Latin, but I’m on the fence. I took French for years, so that is my comfort zone, but my mom speaks German. My husband took Spanish. I suppose we could go in any of these directions and do ok, but I still rethink things daily.

  8. Living in Texas, it would be wonderful to be able to learn Spanish.
    Thasnks so much for the opportunity to win this wonderful gift of language.
    Please please pick me.
    now I need to learn to type also. :)
    Big hug,
    Karen

  9. I am from Singapore and speak English and Mandarin fluently. I also learnt French in high school but without use, I have lost quite a bit of it. My husband speaks only English so it was a struggle to try and teach my then only-child-daughter, the Chinese language. Surprisingly, now that she is older at 4 years old, she wants to learn a new language, new words, so she has been absorbing alot and her Chinese vocabulary has grown so much.

    To assist her, and my 15-month-old, I designed these prints,
    http://www.etsy.com/view_listing.php?listing_id=25956579

    The one that she is currently on is this one,
    http://www.etsy.com/view_listing.php?listing_id=26788351
    (This one’s displayed on a very prominent spot at her height so each time she walks past it, she begins to recite it. When it was first put up, she would refer to it when she forgot a phrase or two, now she recites it from memory.)

    I believe that providing visually appealing cues and linking the learning to music or rhythm, makes it appealing to a young toddler.

  10. OH how exciting! My husband is fluent in Spanish and I can understand everything. But don’t ask me to put a sentence together.

    We’re implementing Spanish Only days in our house to make sure he keeps the language, I polish it, and our daughter learns it!

  11. Great suggestions. I love the idea to hit up your local library. I’m sure they’ve got lots of good tapes, cds, and books to help learn!

  12. We teach our baby 2 languages and have from birth. I did a lot of research and the best way to teach babies/kids is to always speak the language, 100% of the time and be consistent. Therefore, I only ever speak Swedish to our baby and my husband only ever speaks English. This way, he will be able to separate the two as two different things because two different people are associated. The best way is pure immersion and this is the best way I’ve found, other than living in the country.

  13. I happen to really like SpanishDict. They have some great videos that I personally think are fairly kid-friendly (how old are your kids?) and also account-based learning, where everyone in your family can sign up for their own account to keep track of their “points.” There’s also English to Spanish Translation which you could use as a Spanish Word of the Day in your family.

  14. Oh, also, my kids love the Muzzy videos from BBC, we have the Spanish one that we found at a library book sale, and we have some sing-a-long Spanish and Japanese tapes that they enjoy as well.

  15. We used to be able to access Rosetta Stone through our library’s website (for free!), so my daughter (then 7-8) was trying to learn French through that. It was okay, but R.S. stopped offering that program through most libraries, and I didn’t like it enough to buy it. The library now has Mango Languages (again, FOR FREE!) and she’s been using that with MUCH more success this past year. She’s really enjoyed it a lot and you can tell she’s learned a LOT more with this program.

    Check and see what your libarary offers!

  16. >>Imagine being dropped in the middle of a foreign land with no one that speaks your native tongue, you’d have to adapt very quickly!<<

    I can imagine it quite well because that’s practically what happened to me when I moved from the U.S. to Austria two years ago. I’ve been amazed at how quickly the kids “picked up” the language while the parents struggled to learn German. Unfortunately, a lot of people here want to speak English, so I have to force myself to speak German.

    For children, a great way to incorporate more learning opportunities is through books and cartoons. I’m sure you can find plenty of material on Amazon and probably even at the library. A child can watch a show that is completely in a different language (as opposed to Dora, which is mostly English with some Spanish mixed in) and learn the language based on the images and the context. Of course, adults can use books and movies as training material as well, but it learning doesn’t happen as naturally in adults as it does in children.

  17. My husband got Rosetta Stone to learn French for his job and since it is all computer based, the kids thought it was pretty cool. They each have their own “account” and work on it regularly and are picking it up as well as my husband. I was surprised at how fast they are picking it up, even our 5 year old. I don’t know if there is a younger version of Rosetta Stone, but the one we have is perfect for kids that can read and up. There are no grammer drills. It’s all subtely taught and the fact that they use native speakers means great pronounciation. I would highly recommend it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Make and Takes more recent posts